Cloud Co. Comm. College Selected For FAA Training Program


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Cloud County Community College announced today that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected its sUAS drone program for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems-Collegiate Training Initiative program or the UAS-CTI.

“Being chosen to be a member of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ Collegiate Training Initiative demonstrates Cloud County Community College’s collaborative efforts with the Federal Aviation Administration to deliver up-to-date, quality UAS (drones) educational training that ensures our graduates have the needed skill set to be successful in careers involving drones,” said Kimberly Zant, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The FAA’s UAS-CTI program recognizes institutions that prepare students for careers in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones. In order to qualify for the initiative, schools must offer a bachelor’s or associates degree in UAS or a degree with a minor, concentration, or certificate in UAS. Schools must provide curriculum covering various aspects of UAS training, including hands-on flight practice, maintenance, uses, applications, privacy concerns, safety, and federal policies concerning UAS.

“The recognition by the FAA of our UAS program is a very important step in our continual development of programs of excellence at Cloud County,” said Monte Poersch, instructor in Renewable Energy. “This initiative will give us an opportunity to work with other community colleges across the nation to move the UAS drone industry forward into a safe integration of our National Air Space. We have already seen benefits as far as paths to direct us towards not only curriculum development but also grant opportunities for the UAS program.”

Cloud County has one of the most comprehensive Small Unmanned Aerial Systems programs in the state. Cloud offers an associate of applied science degree, a 30-hour certificate, and is now offering an abbreviated 18-hour certificate that can be completed completely online.

The 18-hour certificate will prepare students to take the Part 107 license test, as well as qualify them for the Unmanned Safety Institutes (USI) industry Safety Certification Level 1 test. Drone flights as part of this certificate are completed via a simulator, which allows students to become familiar with how to control a drone before flying a real one.

The 30 hour and AAS degree paths provide students the opportunity to fly drones, and learn mapping skills and thermal imaging skills. Students also build drones, which helps them understand the hardware and software required to create an operational unmanned vehicle.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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